Irmin Schmidt

Irmin Schmidt
Born (1937-05-29) 29 May 1937
Berlin, Germany
  • Musician
  • Composer
Instruments Keyboards
Associated acts Can

Irmin Schmidt (born 29 May 1937) is a German keyboardist and composer, best known as a founding member of the band Can.


Schmidt was born in Berlin, began his studies in music at the conservatorium in Dortmund, at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, and he studied composition in Karlheinz Stockhausen's Cologne Courses for New Music at the Rheinische Musikschule, Cologne.[1]

He started work mainly as a conductor and performed in concerts with the Bochum Symphony; the Vienna Symphony; and the Dortmund Ensemble for New Music, which he founded in 1962. During this time, he received several conducting awards. Schmidt also worked as Kapellmeister at the Theater Aachen, as docent for musical theatre and chanson at the Schauspielschule Bochum drama school, and as concert pianist.

In 1968, Schmidt founded the experimental krautrock band Can with Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli, and Jaki Liebezeit. Schmidt served as Can's keyboardist until the group's disbandment in 1979. He participated in both reunions of Can, in 1986 and 1991.

Schmidt has scored more than 40 films and television programs, including Knife in the Head (1978) and Palermo Shooting (2008). He has recorded a few solo albums and written an opera, Gormenghast, based on Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast Trilogy. Gormenghast premiered at the Opernhaus Wuppertal in 1998. Excerpts from the work were released on Spoon Records in 1999.[2] His wife Hildegard Schmidt has been responsible for Can's management and record label, Spoon Records, since the 1970s.

As of 2008, Schmidt lives in Southern France. His interests outside music include cooking.[3] In 2015, he received the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Chevalier).[4]



With Can

Main article: Can discography


  1. Karlheinz Stockhausen, "Kölner Kurse für Neue Musik", in his Texte zur Musik 3: 1963–1970, edited by Dieter Schnebel, 196–211, DuMont Dokumente (Cologne: Verlag M. DuMont Schauberg): 207. ISBN 978-3-7701-0493-2.
  2. Spoon Records. Gormenghast / A fantasy opera by Irmin Schmidt. Retrieved 17 July 2013
  3. "Features | Things I Have Learned | Irmin Schmidt of Can on Food And Cooking (Plus A Recipe Tip)". The Quietus. 2 December 2008.
  4. "Can: Irmin Schmidt erhält Ritterschlag" by Severin Mevissen, Rolling Stone (Germany), 3 February 2015 (German)
  5. Villa Wunderbar at AllMusic
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